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Sabres chase third straight win, face Devils

by Brian Hunter

DEVILS (10-6-4) at SABRES (8-12-1)


Last 10: New Jersey 4-5-1; Buffalo 4-6-0

Season series: First of three meetings. New Jersey went 3-0-1 against Buffalo last season. Patrik Elias led all scorers with six points (two goals).

Big story: Have the Sabres turned a corner after sweeping their two-game road trip through the state of Florida? They're now 2-2 under new coach Ron Rolston, who will take a second shot at his first home win at First Niagara Center, where Buffalo is a woeful 3-6-1 this season.

Team Scope:

Devils: Since Martin Brodeur's back started acting up on him, New Jersey hasn't tasted victory. Johan Hedberg allowed 14 goals over a three-start span, but he couldn't be faulted in the Devils' 3-1 loss in Winnipeg on Thursday night. After Jets captain Andrew Ladd scored eight seconds into the game, Hedberg held the fort and allowed the Devils to eventually draw even. But Ladd's second of the night with 8:01 remaining and an empty-netter sealed a 3-1 defeat, New Jersey's sixth in eight games.

"It's frustrating," forward David Clarkson said. "We've got to find a way to get out of this and start playing in the other team's zone a little more."

Sabres: Allowing too many shots continues to be an issue in Buffalo, but on some nights it won't matter simply because Ryan Miller is in net. Miller may have allowed three goals Thursday night, but he also stopped 40 shots by Florida through three periods and a five-minute overtime. Then he turned aside both shootout attempts by the Panthers, while Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville converted on theirs to give the Sabres a 4-3 victory. Nathan Gerbe scored twice in regulation, his first goals of the season.

"That was a good game," Gerbe said. "We settled back maybe a little too much in the second, they took it to us. But a resilient win for us. Obviously we don't want to give up that late goal (Brian Campbell scored with 1:26 left to force overtime), but Ryan did a great job getting us in a shootout."

Who's hot: Andrei Loktionov has two goals and two assists during a four-game points streak for the Devils, while Alexei Ponikarovsky has an assist in three straight games. … Miller has stopped 70 of 74 shots over his last two starts, a .946 save percentage.

Injury report: Brodeur can't be activated from injured reserve until Monday at the earliest. Forward Ryan Carter was activated off injured reserve Friday after missing four games with a concussion. Forward Dainius Zubrus (wrist) is expected to miss another month. … Buffalo is without forward Ville Leino (hip) and defensemen Jordan Leopold (upper body) and Alexander Sulzer (lower body).

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